\ All Things Girl Scouts: 2016

October 2, 2016

Daisy Petal Work

Girl Scout 

verb

Being a Girl Scout is something you DO, and it is an EXPERIENCE that no girl should miss!



Yall know I am always on the lookout for more resources!  I have a great set of Daisy petal resources for you all to use and enjoy:




Something I ALSO wanted to share with you was a resource a fellow Daisy leader recently shared with me, and has gracefully allowed me to share with you.

Audrey Anderson is a woman I met in one of my MANY girl scout groups I am a member of online, and she is a wealth of knowledge people! She is often sharing her resources, and guiding other leaders in this quest we are all on to lead our scouts to the best of our abilities!

She has her notes set up in a meeting by meeting fashion - which may be exactly what you are looking for! Everyone absorbs and learns things differently and I am really excited to share this resource with you.

You can find a link to her meeting by meeting layout here:

DAISY MEETING NOTES

Something I really enjoyed while reading these notes is that they are personalized for Audrey's troop, but she also offers suggestions and ideas to personalize them for your troop.  She has a lot of ideas and suggestions on how to tame excited little ladies, and how to go one step further to really make your year great.

Did you enjoy her tips? What ones did you find most useful?


P.S. Dont forget to enter our giveaway for a $20 credit at Coral Patches!! Check it out here!



September 27, 2016

Coral Patches

Girl Scout 
verb

Being a Girl Scout is something you DO, and it is an EXPERIENCE that no girl should miss!


One day, I was perusing Facebook for further resources pertaining to girl scouts.  I happened to come across a really interesting post in my Facebook group - Girl Scout Troop Leader Connection.  The post was actually kind of distasteful, when I looked more into it.  On the surface, it was a post that said something like, hey check out this cool group - what it really meant was, I need to refer people to this group so I can win something for me, so I am spamming other groups for my own benefit.

ALL THAT ASIDE, when I went to check out the group - Coral Patches - and it was a REALLY COOL group!!  I followed the link to her website - http://www.coralpatches.com/store/ and just looked around.  This site.  You guys. It is awesome.  First and foremost - there are TONS of great resources.  

Let me introduce you to Nicole Sutherland.  She is the creative mind and power behind this site, and she is a doll.  I've spent quite a but of time talking with her, and spitballing, and I am very excited to do a collaboration in the form of a blog post with her.  We have an exciting surprise for you at the end of this post as well! <3 

I am a coffee drinking Girl Scout mom from San Diego who likes Disneyland, making cupcakes, watching football, cooking, crafting, and running marathons. Follow me on Instagram @nic0le for more ideas. ”


— NICOLE
First.  FREE.  There is a large number of FREE resources - I'm talking, download and print at Office Max on the cheap, free. There are awesome, detailed fun patch requirements that you can print for free.  I love this - you all know how we do fun patches in my troop - we have 3 requirements that must be met to earn it - so this was right up my ally.  However, it was also just the TIP of the iceberg.  Nicole has so much more than just patch instructions.  There are resources from super cute planners, to attendance forms.  Cookie sales trackers to calendars.  Kapers charts to badge trackers.  

People. They are gorgeous as well.  Nicole has a great eye for design, and color, and it really shows in her work.  Now - my FAVORITE part of the free printables is that Nicole will absolutely print these items for you.  And yes, there is a cost - but not the etsy cost you've come to expect.  Nicole prints these for a minimal fee ($0.65), on 90lb cardstock, in a flat envelope.  
Click on the photo to check it out!
There are also a variety of other fun things available for purchase for a small cost - patches, stationary, stickers, etc.  I would love for you to pop on over and check her things out.  AND it's probably pretty important that you do - because I am hosting a giveaway.

My readers are girl scout leaders who are selfless, and giving and dedicated. And deserving of a little something fun - so check out the rafflecopter below and enter to win a $20 credit to Coral Patches.  The giveaway runs from now until 12a EST on October 5th.  Enjoy and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Did you check out Coral Patches? Did you enjoy it? What are you going to get when you win the $20 credit?



September 16, 2016

Parent Email - Start of the Year


Girl Scout 
verb

Being a Girl Scout is something you DO, and it is an EXPERIENCE that no girl should miss!




I've been remiss on my posting lately, and I apologize. Writing this blog and providing resources for other girl scout leaders is a sincere passion of mine. 

Unfortunately, my mother passed away from stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain, femur and heart this past week. It has been a whirlwind of caring for her, funeral arrangements and settling her affairs. 

I did come across an email that I used at the beginning of the year and wanted to share it with you all. It's personalized for my troop but it's a pretty good template and the verbiage is really well put together. I hope some of you find it helpful. 

Girl Scouts 2016-2017 *Important*
Hello! It is that time of year again...school is starting.  AND....Girl Scouts is coming back to your regularly scheduled programming!!  I am very excited to be seeing your girls again regularly (or to begin seeing them, if they are new!) and cannot wait.  SO. I wanted to send out a quick email - even though I know we, as a group, are terrible at emails lol.

I wanted to apologize for my lateness in this email - It's been half written for weeks.  My mom (as most of you know) is very sick with stage 4 lung cancer, and last week, we discovered it had metastasized further, to her heart.  She was given 3-6 weeks to live.  I did end up flying out to Minneapolis again to tend to her, and spend time with her, and have plans to do so again in Sept.  This may interrupt girl scouts at some point, but I am confidant that our parent volunteers will be able to step up and get us through. 

We have a really exciting year coming up - our Daisy's and Brownie's have a lot on their docket!  We will discuss them more in depth at our first meeting - September 6th - but I wanted to give a quick overview.  Our Daisy's will be working out of the girls guide for Daisy's and our Brownies will be working out of the girls guide for Brownies.  We will do TWO really fun events this first half of the year.  1.  A day trip here in town to the Poplar Grove Plantation.  They have fantastic educational programs for us to choose from.  This will cost about $7 per girl, plus a patch if we decide to get a patch for it.  This event will be open to all scouts, parents, and family members.  2.  An overnight trip to the Asheboro Zoo.  Melissa (our second in command) and any other parent who would like to will help me design some fun events for this overnight.  We will plan to leave town around 7 or 8a on a Saturday, and return around dinner time on a Sunday.  We'd like this to happen in October or November.  This event will be open to ONLY registered scouts and registered volunteers, due to constrictions regarding insurance, and girl scout policy.  The cost for this will be around $35 per person, and that will cover food, admission to the zoo, hotel stay, and transportation.  If we would like the girls to receive a badge for this event, there would be an additional $0.75 - $1.50 added.  
The reason for two trips - one overnight, one day trip - is because we have a variety of girls who span different ages, and may be at different places in terms of how comfortable they are in leaving mom and dad.  I wantEVERY girl to be able to have a great experience so I did a lot of research to find a great day trip here in town.  I think we will be very pleased with Poplar Grove Plantation.

We are planning on meeting weekly this year, Tuesdays, from 6p to 7p.  Please reach out to me ASAP if you have some major conflict with this day or time.

The first meeting of the year will be September 6th, in our regular meeting place.  This will be our *parent* meeting, so each girl will need at least one parent present for this meeting.  If you cannot make it, please reach out to me and we can work on alternate arrangements.  Since we joined together mid year last year, none of us have been through this meeting together in the past, but I think you will all enjoy it.  I will have a calendar to hand out, a parent letter that will over our troop standards - and these are just generic guidelines - all of you and all of your girls are simply wonderful people!

We will talk about the various roles that need to be filled and availability for all of you to help.  I handled most of them last year, and I will absolutely handle any of them that need to be done, but any help would be greatly appreciated! 😊

Snacks should once again be pretty simple.  As far as I know, none of our new girls have allergies.  If someone has a new allergy, or anything that would interfere with what type of snack was provided, please reach out to me and I will make sure it is listed in the parent letter.  This year, you will also have the opportunity to opt out of your snack day(s).  If you choose to do this, you will need to make a $10 contribution to the troop, and I will make sure snack is provided.

As our girls age, we will continue to encourage them to lead their own activities, meetings, etc, as that is one of the cornerstones of girl scouts.  As such, we will continue to allow girls to pick a badge and lead a meeting.  We will have a little bit more constriction as to what they can pick due to use working out of the girls guide, but please encourage your girl to do this if she is interested.  What happens is, your girl chooses a topic/badge.  She works with you (or other parent, or adult in her life) to design activities for the troop to do that meet the requirements for the badge.  I can meet with you to help with the planning, and guide your girl as well.  It has been a lot of fun for the young women who elected to do this last year.


Money earning for the year starts soon.  Our bank about has about $325 in it right now, and I will have the current, exact total at the parent meeting.  Girl scouts, as a whole, has 2 fundraising campaigns the girls do throughout the year.  One is the fall product sale, which is nuts, candies, and magazines, and the other is our cookie sale.  As a troop, we will participate in both of these.  The reason for that is because if we participate in both campaigns, we can do outside fundraising as well, such as a bake sale, or car wash.  Fall product sales are not as well known as cookie sales, and I don't want ANYONE to get nervous or worried about the amount their daughter sells.  It is important that our entire troop makes an effort, but I don't care if they sell one $6 tin of nuts, or $500 worth of nuts. Each effort is equal, and all will be recognized for a job well done.  Cookies are easier to sell, but also can be a pain (LOL).  I get it - please dont feel pressured.  Something I'd like to touch on in the parent meeting, then again before cookie sales, is booking a large amount of booths.  Its much easier to sell at booths than it is to go door to door, and every booth has at least 2 girls at it so its sometimes more fun as well.

Cookie sales are where troops garner the largest amount of their funds - our previous cookie sales are responsible for funding everything we did last year, as well as the remaining balance in our account this year, so it really is a very important fundraiser for the girls.

Something I'd like all the parents to consider is a money earning project in the month of September or early October.  I was thinking something like a bake sale or car wash.  We could even do both.  These would go to bring down our costs for our two events this fall.  If there is anyone who would like to take on planning these with me, please let me know.  We will also have girls involved in the planning as well.  The *biggest* thing we need to consider is WHERE to have these things.  Church is often a great place for a bake sale - so if someone is a member at a church, that may be something to look into.  We can also cold call companies, such as ACE Hardware, or Trader Joe's and ask if we can have a bake sale near their entrance.  Please take a few minutes and think of any connections you may have or ideas you have, so we can talk about them at the parent meeting. 



In closing - LOL - that's all I have for now.  Please, again, let me know ASAP if you cannot attend the parent meeting Sept. 6th, and please reach out to me through email, text, facebook, or phone if you have any questions or concerns - I am almost always available.  I am looking so forward to spending time with your little ladies again this year - Yay girl scouts!
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Did you like/use this - was is beneficial to you? Please comment and let me know!

                 

September 2, 2016

What should a NEW leader know? Part 2




Girl Scout 
verb

Being a Girl Scout is something you DO, and it is an EXPERIENCE that no girl should miss!




My posts thus far have largely been cultivated from my own on the job training, and gained knowledge, as well as research I have done online and in person.  *I* decided to try something a little bit different.  I created a google form, and asked leaders across the nation to contribute to it.  It had four (4) questions.  They were:
  • What is the #1 thing you wish you knew as a new leader?
  • What kind of leader resources would you find most useful?
  • What is something you want to ask other leaders anonymously?
  • Is there anything else you'd like to note here?
I received over 100 GREAT responses to this and am compiling them for general use for new leaders, seasoned leaders - really any volunteer that is looking for answers. THIS particular post is going to be what new leaders should know - part 1. 

The first season of scouting as a leader can be very hard.  I spent my entire girlhood as a girl scouts, and still was completely unprepared for the politics between moms, with dealing with difficult guardians, with knowing what exactly the service unit or council was there for - a slew of things.  So I want you to know - when you are there, in the trenches, and its not the unicorns and butterflies you imagined, there are many many MANY seasoned leaders out there that are rooting for you, cheering for you, and standing behind you.  We all want you to succeed.

Some answers were repeated time and time again by seasoned leaders, and I will highlight that when discussing those points!  Here is the next couple of items that ALL new leaders should know!
  1. How much I will come to love each of my girls.
    1. I LOVE this sentiment.  There are a lot of really cool parts about scouts - truly.  You get to help mold little minds into wonderful young women, and celebrate all of their achievements with them.  Often times, you meet GREAT mom friends (and I speak from the heart.  The five women I am closest to outside of family in this world are all moms of my current or former scouts.)  But the real jewels are the lovely young women you meet.  They have a way of finding themselves a place in your heart, and sticking there.  Enjoy it!
  2. How to get parents to respond to emails in a timely manner...or at all.
    1. This is one of the great questions of girl scouts.  Communication with parents is almost always a struggle in the beginning, and sometimes even after that.  In a day and age where communication is at our fingertips, and we can text/email/snap/call/facebook/[insert one of many other ways to communicate] almost instantly, it can be INSANELY frustrating trying to foster and preserve a good method of communication with your parents.  
    2. There are a GREAT many of ways to communicate with your parents. 
      1. A private facebook group - This works if you have younger parents who are tech savvy or invested in facebook. 
      2. A google group - This is another option for a group setting where your parents can post questions and interact with you, without feeling forced to be on facebook.
      3. Remind - this is an app that teachers use to communicate with parents - it lets you send out a mass text, but when people respond, the responses only come to you.
      4. Shutterfly - This is a share site that a lot of teams/troops/classrooms use.  You can post reminders, calendars, etc on it.
      5. GroupMe - This is a text app that you can use online or on your phone.  It is basically like a small private chat room or forum.  It allows for direct messaging, as well as being able to share photos and videos.
      6. Rallyhood - Rallyhood is used by a LOT of councils and can be a very effective way to communicate.  You can coordinate calendars, share photos, split up tasks, etc.
      7. Teamapp - This is an app used by many troops and teams.  It is basically a platform that helps you create a smartphone app that works for your group.  You can post schedules, reminders, push notifications, etc.
      8. Scoutlander - This is a very popular tool for both girl scouts and boy scouts.  You can post calendars, blast emails, post photos and more. 
      9. TroopTrack - This is a VERY comprehensive tool.  You can post schedules, rosters, record attendance, communicate and more.  The BIGGEST thing to note with this one is that there is a $100 yearly fee to use it.  It does off a 30 day trial, but it is a hefty fee to utilize this tool.
      10. Email - Snail mail of the 21st century.  Theoretically, everyone should have access to this, and be able to use it.  
    3. I have tried some of these, and my parents are definitely NOT all on the same page.  Facebook worked well with my last troop, but not this one.  Email is something we seem to fail at as a group.  Google groups was to email-y for my parents.  I *think* we are going to try Team App this year - I really like that you can send push notifications, so that's a huge draw for me!

      Have you tried one or more of these? Please share your experience with them in the comments - the more info we share, the more resources we have!
  3. I wish I knew where to start.
    1. Well.  Girlfriend. We all do. This was, hands down, the most common comment for what a new leader should know - where to start.  THANKFULLY - this blog is shaping up to be a great place to start (after your council training.)  There are a lot of GREAT resources here and I post more as I find or create them!  Here is a list of things you may find helpful in your early days:
      1. Sample Parent Letter for the First Meeting
        • A letter to hand out to your parents that will go over all of the ins and outs of girl scouts and your troop.
      2. Code of Conduct
        •  Laying out a code of conduct at the beginning of the year gives everyone a firm set of expectations.
      3. How to Plan Meetings
        • A guide on how to plan meetings, coupled with two free templates for your use!
      4. What should NEW leaders know? Part 1
        • Helpful information for new and seasoned leaders.
    2. There will also be a post soon dedicated to this very topic - keep your eyes peeled!  There will be a post dedicated to this posted to the blog on September 3rd, 2016.
  4. How to set rules, from dues to cookies, and trips, from day one.
    1. This is important.  I don't care HOW you do it - just please please PLEASE do it.  This is something I learned the hard hard HARD way.  When I first became a troop leader, I was SO excited.  I was not given much support from my council in terms of recruiting, but I knew I needed more than just my daughter in my troop.  So I busted my butt to recruit (and there will be a post on this as well in the coming days!)  And in about a month, I had a sweet little troop of about 9 girls.  I didn't have a lot of guidelines.  I was pretty lax.  And here's why.  *I'M* a decent person.  I can read.  I am involved in my kid's life and extracurriculars.  I read emails and due dates.  I'm pretty responsible when it comes to my kids.  So I just assumed (you know what assuming does) that my troop parents and guardians would be similar.

      And halfway into the year, I was at the end of my rope, unsure what to do and how to proceed because I had not given my parents many expectations, and the few I did, I was lenient with.  Some parent's were like me - no issues.  Some were not.  One began to see me as a free sitting service - she went so far as to assume I would watch her child on school holiday without speaking to me.  One failed to let me know about some struggles her child had - and she dropped her girl off at a sleepover without letting me know that her girl had behaviors such as stealing.  And that is a hard thing to deal with when you have no heads up.  One parent demanded that myself and my co leader transport her daughter to meetings because she couldn't drive - she lived 2 blocks away.  One guardian legit got in my face, during a meeting, and raised her voice at me, telling me that she would turn product money in when she wanted, rather than when it was due.  In this time, when you are so excited to plan your year, USE ALL THE RESOURCES YOU HAVE, and be succinct in your expectations - give them clear expectations and be firm, and *most* will automatically just fall into doing it *your way.*  See #3 for resources, and a post dedicated to this will be posted on the blog on September 4th, 2016.
  5. How to actually have meetings.
    1. The best thing to remember here is that there is no one right way to have a meeting.  The FIRST thing you need to do is secure a meeting place.  Sometimes your council can help you with this, but more likely you will be on your own to secure a meeting place.  Here are some places that other leaders have found are great places to meet:
      1. School
      2. Church
      3. Community Center
      4. Some Chik-Fil-A plaecs will allow free use of their meeting rooms
      5. Library
      6. Service Unit or Council center
      7. American Legion Center
      8. Leader's home - many council's discourage this - it's probably best for this to be a last resort. 
    2. The next thing to do is to determine when you are having your meetings, and go through the appropriate channel to obtain proper permission for your troop, then contact your parents.  And get planning!
    3. Meeting planning isn't easy, but it isn't hard.  You can find a great post on the parts of a meeting here, and how to plan your meeting.
  6. That fundraising doesn't truly fund your troop.
    1. This one is specific to your troop.  I am here to tell you, that fundraising can ABSOLUTELY fund your troop, 100% of the time.  I've been a leader 3 years now, and I have not charged my parents dues, nor have I made a habit of reaching into my own pocket.   You DO have to be creative about this though. I will say - the second council I was in, I found this much easier, simply because they provided us with $25 to start our troop.  However, even without start up funds, you be really be successful.  Let me share some of the things we do to offset or alleviate the cost. 
      1. FIRST thing we do each year - We created this as an activity to do as part of our Clover petal, since her standard is using resources wisely.  Here is a breakdown on how exactly we do it, but basically its an at home scavenger hunt.  My co leader and I make a list of the materials we need for the year, or first half of the year, and we give each girl a portion of the list - the list in my example we split 3 ways and then had 9 girls, so each portion of the list went with 3 girls.  That's fine since not every girl will have every item.  This really inspires a sense of respect for the items that your troop has, since many of the girls can remember when the item was personally theirs or their households.  
      2. The next thing I will speak to are the events your troop does.  There are a LOT of awesome events that your council, and service unit will sponsor.  There are a lot of local things you can do - such as scout programs at museums and such.  These things all cost money, and so personally, with a new troop, I do these events in the second half of the year, after fall product sales, OR I speak with the parents and let them know it would be self pay.  That does not mean we don't do events in the first half of the year, though.  We do LOTS of things.  I love to scour the local activity pages - think your tourism sites, trip advisor, local event calendars, and school sponsored activities.  IF YOU NEED HELP OR DIRECTION IN THIS AREA, PLEASE EMAIL ME - I WILL HELP YOU FIND THE APPLICABLE SITES FOR YOUR AREA.  

        Some of the other events we do are tours of local government, police or fire stations, and something I did with my first troop of daisy's - that I loved, they loved, the community loved and parents loved was career day, once a month.

        Career day was with a different female professional in some capacity.  I sat with my girls, and asked them for a list of things they would like to do when they grew up.  These things spanned from check out girl to business owner.  And then I set about finding real women in these positions to speak to my girls.  I have never paid ANYONE to do this, and I basically ask them to spend 45 mins to an hour with my girls, talking to them about their career, the path they took to get there, and answer questions.  The community responds to this in a HUGE way.  And I mean HUGE.  We have seen many professionals over the years, but the most memorable were:
        1. Flight Instructor
          1. This was just cool all around - she was this very empowered, young woman who was in a field that we don't encounter on a regular basis.
        2. Director of Marketing
          1. This was fun because she really related it to a level the girls could understand.
        3. Vet
          1. This was one of THE COOLEST.  There was a female vet that invited us to her clinic.  She had her female assistants stay, and they set up the entire clinic with stuffed animals to simulate real things - an xray, getting weighed, on the surgical table, complete with IV, etc.  They went through and shared information about all parts of being a veterinarian.
        4. Police Canine Officer and her canine partner
          1. Hands down, the coolest woman that came to see us.  She was the first female canine officer in our area and she was so cool lol.  She came in alone, and talked with my girls about her position as an officer, and her path she took to get there.  Then she segued into the department starting a canine department and how she became involved with that.  Then she took like little black walky talky looking thing out and explained that it checked the status of her vehicle - whether it was running, doors were open, the temperature - and told the girls it was to keep her dog safe.  Then she went and got her partner, and did a demo with him.  She only does 2 of these a year, so we were very blessed that she chose to share with us. 
        5. Scientist
          1. *I* thought this one was very cool.  My husband is a scientist, and his superior at the time was female.  She was amazing - she planned experiments, brought supplies, and was a mom as well, so she was very able to get on the girls level.
        6. Kindergarten Teacher
          1. My girls really loved this one because this was one of their teachers - and they thought it was pretty cool to see her outside of school.
        7. Accountant
          1. This was cool because she had a lot of hands on activities for the girls to do.
        8. Judge
          1. The girls enjoyed this, and we got to go to the court house and view the judges chambers.
        9. Council Women
          1. Local politics were not discussed, but the ins and outs of her job as well as how she can promote and encourage and inspire change.
        10. Stay at home mom
          1. I found this particularly interesting.  Some of my parents - moms even, were pretty adamant that this was not a *real* job, and it didn't really have any skills of merit.  However, the girls found it pretty eye opening to see the amount of work, organization, and dedication that went into running a household and raising children.

  7. You cannot please everyone.  There will always be someone who doesn't get the message, and you have to learn to realized that it is there problem - not yours. 
    1. Self explanatory.  But make this part of your mantra. Repeat it often.  Work hard. be dedicated.  Do your best. LET THAT BE ENOUGH.
That's all for today's post.  It is only PART 2 of what leader's should know, and there will be more to come.  Definitely check out PART 1, as well!  I hope, as a new leader, you found this information useful.  I hope more seasoned leaders read along, nodding and also found something useful here.  If you have anything to add, or a different method for any of this, please comment on this thread and SHARE!

Remember - Girls can do anything they set their minds to...especially when given the right opportunities!






August 30, 2016

What should NEW leaders know? PART 1


Girl Scout 
verb

Being a Girl Scout is something you DO, and it is an EXPERIENCE that no girl should miss!




My posts thus far have largely been cultivated from my own on the job training, and gained knowledge, as well as research I have done online and in person.  *I* decided to try something a little bit different.  I created a google form, and asked leaders across the nation to contribute to it.  It had four (4) questions.  They were:
  • What is the #1 thing you wish you knew as a new leader?
  • What kind of leader resources would you find most useful?
  • What is something you want to ask other leaders anonymously?
  • Is there anything else you'd like to note here?
I received over 100 GREAT responses to this and am compiling them for general use for new leaders, seasoned leaders - really any volunteer that is looking for answers. THIS particular post is going to be what new leaders should know - part 1. 

The first season of scouting as a leader can be very hard.  I spent my entire girlhood as a girl scouts, and still was completely unprepared for the politics between moms, with dealing with difficult guardians, with knowing what exactly the service unit or council was there for - a slew of things.  So I want you to know - when you are there, in the trenches, and its not the unicorns and butterflies you imagined, there are many many MANY seasoned leaders out there that are rooting for you, cheering for you, and standing behind you.  We all want you to succeed.

Some answers were repeated time and time again by seasoned leaders, and I will highlight that when discussing those points!  Without further ado, here are the first couple of things that all NEW leaders should know!
  1. How much time I would invest in it.
    1. This one was repeated over and over again - it was included in probably 20-25% of the answers.  And I concur - it is SHOCKING how much time you invest.  But what is MORE surprising? Realizing that it doesn't (usually) even feel like work.  For many leaders, molding and guiding little ladies in their endeavors is a passion, and girl scouts is the perfect outlet.  You are intimately involved in the lives of your girls, becoming a mentor, a confidante - someone they trust. Someone they enjoy. So yes, it is time consuming. Sometimes it's a complete time suck.  But it is VERY rewarding.  You will find that you love your girls, and they love you.
    2. Something else that came up was - I wish there was something for just average leaders.  But here's there thing.  There is NO SUCH THING as 'just an average leader.'  So maybe your girls don't earn EVERY SINGLE badge.  Or maybe you just don't have it in you to spend more than an hour planning meetings each week - pinterest just isn't your friend, and so you show up, the girls have fiun and you call it good.  Maybe you don't sell eleventy billion cookies, or go camping every weekend.  That doesn't make you average, or sub par.  As long as you love your girls, and work hard to make girl scouts a great experience for them, you are an amazing leader, and YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH.
  2. How to keep everything organized.
    1. Every leader does this differently.  My current set up is this: 
    2. As you can see, my method is not the most organized.  I am a person who struggles with ADHD, and I find it easiest to have everything at my fingertips - when I find my focus waning, I can choose another item to work on easily.  Basically, I prefer to have all of my girl scout stuff in the same area, and then I choose what I need.  I have a 'craft corner' as well, and each week, I stuff what craft stuff I need into my scout bag to take to meetings.  THIS MAY NOT BE WHAT WORKS FOR YOU LOL!!  Something other leaders have mentioned finding great success in is using a bag meant for scrapbooking supplies, or (oddly enough) hair dresser or cosmetology supplies.  Something that looks something like this:ArtBin ExpreSS Rolling Upright Arts and Crafts Tote BagPro Aluminum Makeup Case Zebra 4 Wheeled Spinner, only $169.95 plus free shipping! #makeup:
    3. In the end, you'll need to figure out what works for you.  It will be a process.  It may take some time. Be patient with yourself, and try a few things out. You'll get there.
  3. The more you let scouts get involved with the planning of meetings and camping early on, the more leadership skills they will gain. 
    1. Girls of ALL ages are great planners.  The very young girls often need some guidance but they are ABSOLUTELY able to plan meetings and events, and to have some self empowerment in terms of decision making.  I DO find that with younger girls, it is easier for them to process it if you present an 'either or' choice.  Such as we are going to do such and such petal next week - we can do *this* activity OR *this* activity, and ask them to choose which to do.  I have a blog post on event planning with younger girls and how to help/guide them and to empower them to lead.  You can see that post here!  As girls get older, you can hand the reins over more and more to them until you are in the back seat and they are driving the meeting planning.
  4. What the SU was, how they can help and that they had monthly meetings.
    1. Your SU is your service unit and they are an extremely valuable resource for you!  Sometimes in onboarding, the information you receive isn't as comprehensive as it maybe could be.  A service unit is a subdivision of your council that includes girls, volunteers, parents, and community members.  It serves as a unit within the community to work together to achieve community and scouting goals.  Your service unit has a variety of roles they fulfill.  They recruit girls and volunteers, provide training, host activities and have a series of administrative duties, such as monthly meetings and identifying delegates.  You as a volunteer are expected to participate in your service unit, whether that is by volunteering on your SU, attending monthly meetings, attending trainings or even just networking.  Your SU is the go between with YOU and your girls, and the council.  Something that *I* think, and was reiterated to me by my membership specialist, was that leaders sometimes feel an overwhelming disconnect with their service unit.  This is nothing short of tragic.  But it is so easy to change - many leaders aren't completely aware of all of the help, training and service that a SU can provide, and knowledge is power.  When I posed this sentiment to my membership specialist, this was her response: "I think it starts with you and me and sharing this info with others.  I know that change is a hard pill to swallow for many of our volunteers (and council employees) across GSUSA, but if we can let go of how things used to be, sometimes we can share the joy of positive energy that makes the difference.  We can be the change we want to see."  And really, isn't that the crux of it? WE CAN BE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE.  If you have any other questions or need information regarding your service unit, please please PLEASE do not hesitate to contact me.
  5. I wish I knew how much flexibility there was, and there is no one *right* way to do everything.
    1. This is so so so important for new leaders.  YOU can take the reins.  The girls can take the reins.  Things do NOT need to be completed just as described in the journeys, or girl guides.  You have such leniency - many of the books in girl scouts offer a specific way to complete the steps to a badge. And this is a perfectly acceptable way to obtain your badges.  However, sometimes you might come across something and think, wow that's lame. OR think, wouldn't it be so much cooler to do something like x,y and z? And that's the beauty of girl scouts.  You can change it up as much or as little as you like!  And remember, there is NO one *right* way to do anything - as long as you meet the general requirements, you have plenty of flexibility and empowerment to something your troop genuinely enjoys.  Some of the ways we completed our Daisy work is here.  Some of the ways we completed Brownie work is here.
  6. There were MANY comments from leaders who are clearly frustrated and exasperated, to the effect of parents not wanting to help, not reading correspondence, and a general feeling of uselessness for them.
    1. I think it is important to speak to this.  Please don't underestimate your parents.  Sometimes, parents suck. They just do - that's the reality of it.  You don't know their lives, and there may be more going on than what meets the eye.  Or maybe they truly just suck.  Either way, you don't know, so do yourself a favor and assume and err on the side of forgiveness and understanding.  Now - it is SO important to be clear and succinct when dealing with your parents.  Give them clear, and easy to understand expectations at the beginning of the year.  You can see the parent letter I use here.  Parents are your greatest resource during the scouting year.  There are a lot of roles that they can fill - cooking mgr, fall product mgr, treasurer, drivers, etc.  The most important thing to remember when dealing with your parents is that sometimes they just don't know how to bridge the gap.  They may want to help, but not a the level or capacity they *think* you expect. They may not want to step on toes. They may not even realize you *need* help!  What I find works best in terms of parent involvement is to jot down what I need from parents.  My current list looks like this:
      • Fundraising Ideas
      • Drivers for overnight
      • Outdoor Skills training
      • Brownie lead
      • Daisy lead
    2. My way to approach this is to select TWO (because someone may say no, or fall through) parents that I feel will be able to help out in these areas.  I selected more involved parents for the leads, less involved for the fundraising ideas.  I will approach the primary person for each of these roles on my list, and privately (in person or on the phone) speak with them, and basically implore them to help lol.  I am honest, and let them know that I can't do it all (no matter how much I'd like to) and that their participation will offer a more rounded, easily enjoyed experience for our girls, and that is really everyone's goal.  This approach allows parents to see roles in a smaller light, and makes them less overwhelming. It's pretty easy to say yes when someone comes to you and says, listen, I need 5 age appropriate fundraising ideas in 2 weeks.  Can you take some time to jot some down? To that same point, it is pretty easy to turn someone down when they say, I really need you to chair the troop fundraising. Parents WANT to help - they just need guidance.  Also, remember to make sure you are IN PERSON (if possible) or on the phone.  It is much harder to say no when presented with having to turn a person down to their face. 
    3. The other conflict leaders frequently experience is trouble in paradise.  Dissent, disapproval, frustration or any other number of emotions you may encounter with the parents of your girls.  A resource my own council gave me, and that I find SO incredibly helpful is the F.A.I.R. method when talking to parents.  
    4.  I have expounded on this previously in my blog, and you can find further information on this method here.
    5. Lastly, if you are being harassed, threatened, demeaned, bullied, etc by parents, and are unable to self resolve it, please please PLEASE reach out to your council. They will step in and help you.  Trust. I have personal experience with it, and if you have questions on my experience, feel free to email me!
  7. Girls sometimes have a SHORT attention span - be prepared, and be flexible to keep them engaged.
    1. My last piece of advice for this post is about keeping those little ladies involved.  This is pointed more towards the smaller girl scouts, but it can sometimes happen with older scouts as well. Just be flexible and understanding - they are generally very excited to be at girl scouts and to be with their friends and sometimes have a hard time reining that in.

That's all for today's post.  It is only PART 1, and there will be more to come.  I hope, as a new leader, you found this information useful.  I hope more seasoned leaders read along, nodding and also found something useful here.  If you have anything to add, or a different method for any of this, please comment on this thread and SHARE!

Remember - Girls can do anything they set their minds to...especially when given the right opportunities!